Monday, November 16, 2015

marseille responds

Tonight at the Vieux Port in Marseille people gathered together in solidarity in response to the November 13 attacks in Paris. It was an informal gathering, no speakers, no one seemed to be in charge, no obvious extra security. Just citizens together. I learned about the gathering via Instagram late in the day. A friend told me she heard about it on the Arabic radio station on her way home from work.

By 6:30 pm a large crowd of all ages had already gathered, at least 1000 people I think. They sang "The Marseillaise," which is a rousing fight-song of a national anthem, and another song. Soon there was a defiant round of applause. Then the crowd dispersed into smaller clusters of 4-5 people, groups of family and friends. There were three to four stations of candles and a few flowers. I didn't know where the candles were coming from, but then a woman handed me a tea light after lighting hers at one of the candle stations. Later I saw a young woman walking through the crowd with a multi-pack of tea candles offering them to people. Someone strung up clothesline where people attached mostly hand-written notes. The mood was serious but not particularly sad. Defiant-ish but not really angry. 

Three scenes in particular caught my attention: an older man in a wheelchair being slowly pushed by an older woman through the thick of the crowd. A mother with a young son and a young daughter winding their way toward one of the candle-flower sites; the son carried a single rose, the daughter a small bunch of three gerber daisies. Finally, a young girl of six or seven years old stood with the couple who appeared to be her parents; she was gazing for a while at the candles and then began to cry; the woman put her arms around her from behind, and the girl used the woman's sleeve to wipe her eyes.

The crowd reflected in the mirrored canopy overhead.

The candles spell "paix" (peace) in the mirrored canopy's reflection.

"Love. Peace. Rest in peace all the victims of the WORLD."

"From Kurdistan to Paris to Ankara the assassins are the same."
"The Kurds stand against the barbarism of ISIS. Be united!"